Marriage Monday: Full Disclosure
Let’s set the scene. Suppose a guy approaches a girl he is interested in and proceeds to ask her out. She agrees, and they both decide to go grab some coffee (always do coffee on first dates because if it is going poorly you can leave quickly. Dinner requires a longer time commitment.). The evening is going well so they set up another date. On the second date they decide to do dinner and then enjoy the beautiful weather in a local park. During their time together he proceeds to tell her that he had a gambling addiction back in 2009, has previously been divorced due to stepping out of his marriage, and that he struggles with anxiety. He is a new person now, and much has changed in his life. In fact, God has done a marvelous work in his life, and you can see hardly any resemblance to the person he was before. Even in spite of his life transformation and change in character, what are the odds that he gets a third date? Probably slim to none. But if the young man had put on a good exterior, kept his defects of character well hidden, glossed over past failures, and put on a nice, pretty face, odds are good that he would have gotten another date.
We have learned, through behavior modification, what to say that brings about good immediate results. Our culture has also groomed us to only show our good side; to be who other people want us to be. To keep our true selves hidden for fear that others will not accept us for who we really are and for the list of mistakes we have incurred. So people become involved in relationships that are shallow and devoid of true intimacy.
The real tragedy of these types of relationships is that people never feel loved for who they really are. They never truly get their basic human need of love and acceptance met. In the back of their mind the thought continually arises, “Would they still love me if they knew who I really am?”
This occurs not in just new relationships, it occurs in seasoned marriages as well. So often, spouses have never gotten to see the bared soul of their partner. Sure, they know many of the strengths and defects in their spouse due to spending so much time with them, but they never truly see them in their entirety. Not only does this keep a person from feeling full love and acceptance, it also allows defects and hidden sins to thrive because they remain covered. If we fear rejection for showing our real selves, most often the real self remains locked away behind layers of locked steal.
One of the best things my wife and I ever did while we were dating was complete disclosure with one another about who we were and where we had been. Once we knew there was potential for our friendship to be romantic, and we felt safe enough with each other, we laid every single card out on the table. It was very much a “here is who I am, here are my shortcomings, here is how I am broken, you can take me for who I am, or we can stop here” type of conversation.
Having this conversation was not intuitive for either of us. What would have felt more natural and comfortable was to gloss over our defects and insecurities, put on a somewhat false veneer, put our best foot forward, and do our best to impress one another. We both knew that we wanted something different, so we chose to take a risk and let the other person see us for who we really were, including the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Intimacy can only be established in the presence of complete truth. We must allow our partner to know us completely if we want to feel loved and valued for who we are. So many people never attain this because they are too scared of being rejected so they keep pieces of themselves hidden in shadow. To feel loved requires a certain amount of risk, but taking that risk can pay off in a life altering way. True intimacy allows one to rest in the relationship that they have. They find security, safety, and comfort knowing that one other person in the world knows them entirely and loves them for the person they are.
Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.